Journal of Migraine Sufferers

Dear Ronda,

My 53 year old sister has developed migraines as she goes through menopause. Her strange problem is she seems to have pain in her head and vagina at the same time. A pulsing or throbbing. She has been to all kinds of doctors and tried all kinds of medicines. Have you ever had correspondence with anyone with this problem? Her doctors can't seem to help. This has changed her life. I'm desperate to find help for her. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

---Elizabeth Barton @


I'm a 21 y/o female who has been suffering from migraine since the age of 15 and the thing is I had no idea it was migraine until recently. My doctor put me on

medication called (Midrin) I don't know if it will help out. What concerns me is that when I get these headaches the light and the TV bothers me, it makes it worse and I'm afraid it might ruin my career since I'm majoring in computers.

The only thing I can do when I'm in pain is lay down and feel helpless. I can not use one side of my body it gets numb, and I lose my speech. It's a terrible headache and if anyone can help


Although I have not had many migraines (I get them about twice a year), I have had a couple which were accompanied by severe visual distortion (I once was completely unable to see for about half an hour). In response to these episodes (which were separated by almost two years with no reoccurance), my doctor advised me to stop taking the birth control pill. Her reason was not simply that it might cause the migraines, as they are not frequent anyway, but rather that because of the visual distortion, I could be experiencing contraction of the blood vessels in my brain, and the increased blood viscosity caused by the birth control pill could combine with this factor to produce a blood clot in my brain. Needless to say, I found this prospect frightening enough to discontinue taking the pill. However, I find that my monthly pain is always much worse now that I'm no longer on the pill, and I would love to be able to return to it. I have found no mention anywhere in my (extensive!) 'net searches of any doctors recommending the course of action my doctor advised. Has anyone else heard of similar concerns? I'd really appreciate hearing from you.


My migraines seem to be related to my menstrual cycle and every .info that i find seems to give little or no info on what treatments work with this type of migraines.My doctor put me on Estraderm and Imitrex 50 mg but i still can get some bad headaches even after my 2nd pill .Do you or anyone else know of anything else that helps.Iwould appreciate any info.Please e-mail any info.Thanks.


P.S.This is a very informative site.Thanks.

My personnal story is not nearly as indepth as those I've read, but I thought I could maybe help someone else with what I've lived with. I remember when I was around 14 or so my dad getting onto me about talking through my teeth. Since it didn't hurt I didn't worry about it. Occassionaly I would get headaches that would literally send me to bed. Since everyone in my family wre glasses I dismissed it as needing stronger lenses. Throughout the rest of the years the headaches would come and go. By the time I was in my 20's I had joined the Air Force. For a long time I didn't have too many problems until I had my wisdom teeth extracted (Took all the sense I had then) Shortly after I began to have serious problems.

First I began to have mild headaches that would go away with rest and strong over the counter drugs. Eventually I began to notice that my jaws were beginning to feel like hydraulic compressors. The harder I fought to keep my jaws from compressing shut, the worse it would get. I consulted the base dentist who diagnosed me with TMJ. At my next duty station all heck broke loose.

On one particular day my husband and I had taken our car to the shop to get fixed. It took all morning and into the lunch hour. Up to this point I had had mild success by drinking soda to ease the headaches. This time it backfired. I found myself facing the worst migraine attack I had ever felt in my entire life. I couldn't walk, see, think or do anything. I was practically incapacitated. I called the base clinic for a home phone consult and was directed by the doctor to basically take any medicarion that I had on hand that would make me drowsy and go to bed. I though he was insane< but i tried it and 4 1/2 hours later I woke up with no headache pain or anything else. The next day I saw him and he set me on a path to finding relief.

The first step was to keep a diary, the next step was to see an orthodontist. He started me out on Atenolol, and a strict diet, last but not least routine followup appointments. (This had a lot to do with an individual dying of an anuerism after going to sick call about a three day old headache).

The orthodontist set me up with a mouth guard, that I wear mostly at night, but also anytime I need to force my jaws to relax. TMJ is also permanent and a strong contributor to migraine pain. I took the Atenolol for several months before tapering off. ( I did this on my own not realizing that I was only supposed to get stabilized - word of caution - Always check and recheck with your doctor when using mnedications) For several moths I suffered no major pain, but eventually the pain returned.

I now take Atenolol daily and have had some weight gain as well as continued sluggishness. The jaw pain won't subside and I am struggling to not forget key facts about my job and daily life. My only common factor that I can attest to the constant daily pain is the fact that I now live in Hawaii - more pollen and dust (volcanic). I have all but absolutely eliminated caffeine and other trigger foods out of my diet. I drink until I can't hold anymore yet still have a cotton mouth. My sinuses always feel full. Stress is as low as I can keep it. I don't know if this helps anyone, but for those with strong jaw or facial pain I urge you to see your dentist. TMJ is herediatary they say, but it's also permament and can not be prevented to the best of my knowledge.

If this is too much let me know I would be very glad to hear back. I'm glad that I can talk with someone who understands what it feels like to go through this. I hope together we can come up with something to lessen the severity for the sake of my three sons and eevryone elses families. Thanks

---Julie Miller Hickam AFB, Hawaii

Dear Ronda,

Just reading that there are people out there like me is a bit of relief. i have the "curse" as my family nicknamed these incredible attacks of the eyes. My mother started her migraine attacks at seventeen. She inherited them from her mother. My three siblings and I are all subject to the migraine gene. My eldest sister, 41, has been battling her last one for over two weeks. My brother, 40, and other sister, 37, are frequent sufferers too. I am 26 and the last carrier of the "curse". We all deal with our headaches differently: mother takes imitrex, sister is on Esgic, brother induces excedrin daily and I take whatever helps. Excedrin will usually help if my headache is caused from chocolate or nuts. Then again if it is stress related, nothing helps but Vicodin. Because of the busy holiday season, I had two horrible attacks when I prayed to God that I would not kill myself or rip my eye out. I ended up tying a rag around my eyes so tight that I thought my eyes would pop out and took as much Vicodin as the pharamist instructed I could ingest without harm. Am I crazy? No. I would never actually hurt myself. But when pain that feels like sharp knives stabs so intensely for days on end, I understand how people have gone crazy. My sister and I were so excited Christmas Eve. I called her that morning and neither one of us had a headache. Christmas Day was another story. Instead of enjoying the day with her husband and children, an attack stole her Christams joy. We are migraine sufferers. We must endure hours, even days, of pain and continue to carry out our normal duties. I consider myself a "lucky" sufferer. I have a husband who understands my pain. He tries so hard to help, but understands that during an attack I need only medication and a dark room. The phone goes off the hook and he tiptoes until I come out of the room and say, "It's all gone." I would not wish this pain on my worst enemy.

I have had severe migraines that are associated with chronic Lyme disease.

I have read many of the old posts here and would just like to let your readers know that Headache is the most common neurologic symptom of Lyme disease. Lyme disease is also associated with vertigo, light and sound sensitivities, fatigue, insomnia, mood swings, personality changes, depression and many other symptoms. If Lyme disease is the cause of your headache, then antibiotics should help. Certainly I realize that this information may only apply to a few people, but if it helps one person combat their pain, its worth it. You can find more information on Lyme disease at The Lyme Disease Network at : If you live in an endemic area (the northeastern states from Mass to Maryland; North Central States, especially Wisconsin and Minnesota; and o the West coast, particularly Northern California.), or if you have atypical presentations, if headache is recent onset, if headaches are cyclical (Lyme symptoms wax and wan with periodic flares that can happen every four weeks), if you have associated symptoms of arthritis, fibromyalgia, heart problems, or others, you might want to check this out. Lyme disease is treatable with antibiotics and I know many whose chronic headache pain has deminished or gone away with proper treatment.

You should know that Lyme disease can not be conclusively diagnosed with any one test and it is a clinical diagnosis.

Good luck to all.


Dear Ronda

Recently, Gail Ruginis wrote to you (Dec 97 #1) and mentioned a Reuters article about tannin and migraine. That article was based on a letter that I wrote to the editor of the journal Headache (Sept 97 issue). I would like to tell your readers what I have discovered about the apparent connection between tannin and migraines.

Some people can avoid migraines substantially or completely by avoiding food that contains tannin. This includes:
- apple juice (many juice drinks contain apple juice - read the label carefully)
- blackberry juice
- tea, coffee, chocolate, carob
(some herb teas are OK, carob is particularly bad) - red wine
- alcoholic drinks that have been matured in the barrel (eg, whiskey, brandy, port, sherry)
- white wine if matured in the barrel (read the label carefully)
- cloudy beer

What are tannins? If you make a strong cup of tea, much of the brown colour is tannin. Alcoholic drinks that are matured in the barrel absorb something brown from the wood, and that is tannin. If you make red wine, you let it ferment for a few days and then siphon off the wine into a large bottle to ferment further. You are left with a mush of grapes, yeast etc. You can make a very cheap "second run" wine by adding water and sugar and letting it ferment again. But it tastes insipid unless you add tannin, which comes as a brown powder.

Tea, by the way, contains both caffeine and tannin. The caffeine seems to be much more soluble than the tannin. To make a cup of tea that is low on tannin, take the tea leaves out quickly. To make a cup that is low on caffeine (which may keep you awake at night), make a quick cup, throw the tea away, and make a second cup with the same tea leaves. The reason we like drinks with tannin seems to be that it gives us a mild buzz. If you suffer from tannin-induced migraine but cannot bear doing without your favourite tipple, try this. Go without tannin for a few weeks and see if the migraines go away. Then learn to allow yourself a small amount of tannin while still avoiding the migraine. I am told that some people can manage this.

The tannin-migraine connection seems to run in families. Of the seven such people that I know of, two are mother and daughter, and two are father and daughter. So, if you suffer from this connection, please talk to your family. There may be other family members who suffer from migraines without you knowing it.

Also, if you are a tannin-migraine sufferer, tell your physician. She/he may have other similar patients. And I would appreciate hearing your story as well.

The Reuters article can be found on the internet at euters/11101402.htm Also, if you go to and search on "migraine" you will find other interesting news on migraines. The journal Headache may be in your local university library.

By the way, in spite of what the Reuters article says, I am not a physician, and the women mentioned are not my patients. I just happen to have stumbled on this connection between tannins and migraines. Nothing said here is medical advice - talk to your own physician. (I do have a doctorate, but it is in mathematics.)

Michael Mather (